Around the Catholic Table Cookbook

It’s been a long time friends. But, I’ve been busy! There have been books and Endow studies and a whole lot of Instagram posts, which are faster and easier to write than blog posts when you only have one free hand and a ginormous toddler sleeping on you. One day, when I have both hands back, I hope to return to writing more in this little corner of the Internet. But, I’m kind of hoping that will be a while!  We’re in the process of trying for a second adoption—hopefully a more peaceful process than last time around, but that’s up to God. I did want to pop on here, though, and let my non-Instagram/Facebook followers know about my newest project, an e-cookbook and essay collection, called Around the Catholic Table: 77 Recipes for Easy Hospitality and Everyday Dinners, which I wrote for a very special cause.

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Waiting and Hoping and Praying

Sometimes no news is good news. Other times, no news is…no news. That’s sort of the case with our adoption. I mean, there’s news. There’s dramatic news, sad news, confusing news, good news, infuriating news, unbelievable news, crazy news, and plain old newsy news, but generally, by the time I can get around to sharing the news, it’s become old news, which, really, is no news at all. Right?

In my head, I swear that makes sense.

Sadly, that is my answer to those of you who have been writing and asking for an update on the adoption situation here on the blog. The whole thing is just so changeable, that I’m not sure what to say.  I’ve tried to give regular updates on Facebook, but even that has become too difficult. I worry about saying the wrong thing…or about saying the right thing but having the wrong people read it. I also worry about jinxing myself, which I know is totally stupid and unCatholic and probably going to earn me an extra millennium in Purgatory, but non-stop, soul-crushing, bank account-draining stress does crazy things to your head. So, that’s my excuse.

Because so many of you have asked, though, I’ll try to give  the Cliff’s Note Version update. In a nutshell, we are waiting and hoping and praying.

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Rachel, Hannah, and Me: Our “Great Anxiety and Frustration”

Apologies in advance for no house photos or renovation update. The house and I are at war today, and I don’t feel particularly keen on showing it off. What I feel like is burning it down.

I also feel like a fool.

Ever since Chris and I got engaged, I’ve been asking for people to pray for us to have a baby. Yes, I was 40 when we got engaged. Yes, I was 41 when we got married. Yes, I’m 42 now. But the fertility doctor I’ve been seeing this whole time (a NaPro surgeon for those tempted to suggest NaPro to me) has continued to assure me that all those things fertility doctors look for—hormones, cycle regularity, ovarian reserve—look great. I should be fine. No reason to think about my age. No reason to worry. Plenty of time for babies.

But, here we are, 14 months later, with every month feeling like a year, and still no babies on the horizon. And although I keep asking people for prayers, I am, again, starting to feel like a fool when I do that…and an old fool at that.

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The Catholic Home

Our Sunday Visitor hates me. They must. Why else would they ask me to write a 3,000 word story about what, from a design standpoint, a Catholic home should look like.

(My devil may care answer? A Catholic home should be: 1) well-maintained; 2) personal; 3) full of sacramentals; 4) full of beauty; and 5) not full of clutter.)

“What’s so bad about that?” some of you are wondering.

To you, I say: You do not know the Internet very well.

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On Seasons and Suffering

There’s a meme floating around Facebook right now that makes me happy every time it pops up in my newsfeed.

Set against a backdrop of gold and crimson trees, it features a quote from everyone’s favorite Edwardian redhead, Anne of Green Gables. “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

So am I, Anne. So, am I.


I’m particularly grateful I live in a world with this October. Not because of the turning leaves, turtleneck sweaters, and advent of all things pumpkin—although I am grateful for those things. On a normal year, I can get my fall on with the best of them. But this year, I’m grateful simply because the arrival of October means the Summer of 2015 is over and done with. Goodbye. Good riddance. Sayonara.

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Good to Eat: How I Said “Goodbye” to Anorexia and “Hello” to Cheese

I was all set to write a fun, breezy little post about one of my favorite things in the universe—wine—when the Great Hive Mind informed me that this is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Thanks, Facebook. Now I feel guilty writing about wine.

Because I don’t do things I feel guilty about—or, at least, I try not to do them—the wine post is on hold. Instead, I’m going to share a few thoughts about how I walked away from anorexia for good 14 years ago.

For those of you not familiar with the disease, the prognosis for those battling eating disorders isn’t exactly rosy. While most people who struggle with anorexia get somewhat better, few get all better. The majority spend their lives waffling on the edge of a relapse. Many fall right off that edge.

But me? You couldn’t drag me back to that edge with a thousand horses. I like cheese too much. And bacon.

I also like myself too much. And my friends and family and every other person on the planet who doesn’t deserve to deal with the horror that is Emily When She’s Not Eating. In my case, Christian charity pretty much forbids a relapse.

That’s not to say I’m not a normal woman living in the 21st century. Air-brushed babes can totally get me down. Skinny jeans can’t go away fast enough. But, regardless of how I occasionally feel about my body, I’m not going to starve myself in pursuit of some unrealistic ideal. At 39, I don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to stop feeding myself. Life it too full to spend one minute of it going down that rabbit hole.

So, what made my recovery possible? Lots of things, from my desire to be a mother (although that hasn’t quite worked out) to an increasingly full and fun life. Five things, however, stand out above the rest.

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Mother Knows Best: Six Timeless Lessons for Lent

Your mother knows more than you think.

Long ago, when you were just a wee child, picking at your oatmeal, Mom persuaded you to clean your bowl by peppering her speech with pearls of wisdom. At the time, those pearls may have seemed like nothing more than motherly machinations. And chances are, they resulted in more eye-rolling than oatmeal-eating.

Yet, the clichés that rolled off her tongue with such seeming sadism were, in truth, some of the soundest theological summations on suffering and sacrifice known to man. Her truisms, aphorisms, maxims, and dictums distilled about 2,000 years of Catholic teaching into one-liners so simple that a five-year-old could understand them, but so profound that a 55-year-old can still learn from them.

The fact is, almost everything you need to know about Lenten sacrifice, you learned from your mother. Let’s review.

 1. “Offer it Up” Continue reading

Sacrifice All the Things: The Loser’s Guide to Winning Lent

I grew up Catholic, but you’d never know it based on my Lenten history. For decades, try as I might, I could never get the season right. Some years, I did too much. Other years, I did too little. And sometimes, I simply lost my mind. Like, the year when I gave up expressing opinions for Lent. Yes, I did that. Well, I sort of did that. I tried, but it didn’t work out so well. Fancy that.

There was also a Lent where I did a progressive fast. During week one, I gave up sweets. For week two, I gave up sweets and meat. The next week, sweets, meat, and dairy. By the time Good Friday arrived, I was basically eating like a tee-totaling, vegan Mormon Celiac on a diet. Or, to put it more accurately, I was eating like a miserable, crabby, total wench of a tee-totaling, vegan Mormon Celiac on a diet.

That was a special year for everyone.

The good news is that all those Lents—crashing, burning, banging wrecks that they were—didn’t go completely to waste. My own particular kind of Lenten crazy gave my friends lots of opportunities to offer things up. I think a few roommates actually did count living with me during Lent as their penance. Plus, eventually, I learned from my own mistakes, and stopped trying to win Lent—proving how holy I was by my ability to Sacrifice All the Things.


Wine Full Continue reading